Blazing Saddles

  • Title: Blazing Saddles
  • Director: Mel Brooks
  • Date: 1974
  • Studio: Warner Brothers
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Cast: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickens, Alex Karras, Mel Brooks, John Hillerman, Harvey Korman, Dom DeLuise
  • Format: Widescreen, Technicolor
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC (Double-sided, Widescreen/Standard)

Mel Brooks is a Jewish writer/producer/director who had a lot of experience with Broadway before moving to Hollywood to make parodies of famous Hollywood genre pictures. However, many of his comedies have become more famous or at least as famous as the movies he pokes fun at. But he has the Jewish sense of  humor of poking fun at something that frightens or angers you. Keep that in mind when watching this film. Also, it’s a 70s movie and thus was able to get away with things that a movie made today probably wouldn’t.

That said, Blazing Saddles is a hilarious, laugh out loud movie, with a fantastic cast. Cleavon Little is the lead, a Black man who goes from being nearly a slave on the railroad, to being nearly hung, to suddenly being the newly appointed sheriff of Rock Ridge – a quaint Western town. However, the towns-people don’t accept him right away, and once they do (after he and the washed-up Pecos Kid (Gene Wilder) save the town) he leaves.

However, that really simplifies this movie that is just chock full of puns, silly humor, sight gags, clever wordplay, great performances (Who can forget Madeline Kahn as the lisping German bombshell Lily Von Shuppt?), and even theater in-jokes? The film, with all it’s humor, also is the story of Bart’s (Little) fight to be accepted, and a great friendship between him and the Kid (Wilder) who immediately takes a shine to him.

The film also plays with breaking the fourth wall, as characters stop the action to address the audience, and the film concludes with a fist fight that breaks into the studio lot and the Bugsy Berkley-style musical (directed by Dom DeLuise) filming next door. Brooks also has a fairly large role (rather than his usual cameo) in this film, as the corrupt governor as well as an Indian (Native American) chief in Bart’s flashback.

This film also has a kick-ass theme song (“He rode a Blazing Saddle…”) with music by John Morris and Lyrics by Mel Brooks sung by Frankie Laine, as well as other numbers with music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, including Lily’s “I’m Tired”, “The Ballad of Rock Ridge”, and the musical number at the end, “The French Mistake”.

Recommendation: See it, if  you haven’t already. Though, I would not recommend it for young children, simply because of the language.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next film: The Blues Brothers